Unequal Tweets: Black Disadvantage is (Re)tweeted More but Discussed Less Than White Privilege

Malapally A, Blombach A, Heinrich P, Schnepf J, Bruckmüller S (2023)

Publication Type: Journal article

Publication year: 2023


DOI: 10.1080/10584609.2023.2257624


Disadvantage and privilege work together to uphold systems of inequality. Nevertheless, racial inequality is often described as Black disadvantage, while White privilege remains less visible. This one-sided framing in public discourse may result in equally one-sided understandings of and policies aimed at reducing inequality. In the present research, we examined the use of and the reactions to Black disadvantage and White privilege frames in tweets. Twitter stands out as a public sphere inspiring both online and offline political discussions and protests around racial inequality (e.g. #BlackLivesMatter). We analyzed the framing of tweets using a combination of a rule-based and a machine-learning approach, resulting in two corpora of 11,292 (Study 1) and 31,984 tweets (Study 2, a direct replication of Study 1) using comparative frames of racial inequality. Users overall more often framed inequality as Black disadvantage than as White privilege. Moreover, tweets with a disadvantage frame were more often retweeted, but less often quoted and replied to than tweets with a privilege frame. These results show that racial inequality is often one-sidedly framed in real online conversations and that this pattern may be reinforced by other users because they preferably pass on disadvantage frames. However, focusing on White privilege may provoke more discussion about racial inequality. Although effect sizes were small, these effects can impact content and perspectives in mainstream media, public opinion, and political agendas by guiding attention to certain aspects of racial inequality, but not others.

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Malapally, A., Blombach, A., Heinrich, P., Schnepf, J., & Bruckmüller, S. (2023). Unequal Tweets: Black Disadvantage is (Re)tweeted More but Discussed Less Than White Privilege. Political Communication. https://doi.org/10.1080/10584609.2023.2257624


Malapally, Annette, et al. "Unequal Tweets: Black Disadvantage is (Re)tweeted More but Discussed Less Than White Privilege." Political Communication (2023).

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